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Statistics is the study of the organization, interpretation, analysis, presentation and collection of data. It also deals with the planning of data collection through experiments and surveys. A statistician is someone who successfully applies statistical analysis and is well versed in the field. Most statisticians take a statistics major, which is a general program that focuses on the differences and similarities between groups of measurements while looking at the various relationships between the measurements.

Program Information

Students interested in pursuing statistics should take as many math courses as they can in high school. Harvard University  has an excellent statistics program. The basic goal of the program is to help students obtain the computational, mathematical, and conceptual tools for making sense of complex data and quantifying uncertainty. A basic introduction is provided by the Statistics 100-104 courses, while a theoretical introduction is provided by the courses Introduction to Probability and Introduction to Theoretical Statistics. These introduction courses provide a student with basic knowledge in both modern and traditional statistical approaches. The Statistics concentration is a flexible program and permits students to take many courses outside the department. There are three paths toward a concentration in statistics: one program follows the standard concentration requirements, while the other two provide interdisciplinary education in statistics and finance or biology. Stanford University also has one of the best statistics programs in the country. Students who want to study statistics are encouraged to declare a major in Mathematical and Computational Science. It provides a core training in statistics (as well as other mathematics and computing) while also allowing opportunities for further specialization. Mathematical and Computational Science is an applied mathematics major, which is appropriate for students interested in Biology, Engineering, Management and Finance.

stats student

Pros & Cons

Some students who major in statistics become statisticians. Statisticians had an average salary of about $74 000 in 2011, which is higher than average. Technological advancement has allowed statisticians to increase their efficiency and overall ease of work. A major in statistics opens up a wide range of career options, however. There are many different areas of focus, such as education, product testing, and public health. Sports teams and leagues are always hiring people to help record or analyze stats. For sports fans this can be a terrific career. The coursework can be difficult however, as you will be dealing with difficult math. Certain deadlines may require you to work overtime and cause stress. If you do work with a sports team, you may have to move away from home or constantly travel with the team. Lastly, for some entry level positions, the pay is below average, especially if you only have an undergraduate degree.

Graduate School & Career

Many students with undergraduate statistics degrees pursue a more specialized area in graduate school. Others however, go straight into the workforce. There are many different professions for statistician majors. Quality Assurance Auditors help organizations maintain well designed products and check for defects, for example in computer hardware. Clinical Data Analyst Specialists provide administrative support to research teams, often finding employment in government research facilities or medical companies. Production Statistical Clerks organize and enter company data, such as sales or employee work hours. They use charts, forms, and reference tables to enter the necessary data. Financial Aid Counselors work with post-secondary students, helping them acquire school funds such as grants or loans. They handle the available funds and teach the student how to apply the funds.